Review: Open Air Cinema, Christchurch Park, Ipswich

The Open Air Cinema event at Christchurch Park, Ipswich. Picture: MATT STOTT

The Open Air Cinema event at Christchurch Park, Ipswich. Picture: MATT STOTT - Credit: Archant

Watching a film at an organised event at a park was a first-time experience for this reviewer – and it exceeded all expectations.

Christchurch Park provided a glorious setting for Saturday night’s film, Bridget Jones’ Baby, the third instalment of the quintessential British romantic comedy. The soothing, setting summer sky was a calm contrast to the manic plot unfolding beneath.

It was the set-up and layout of the cinema which intrigued me most prior to the 7.30pm showing (there was also Finding Nemo at 10am and Jurassic World at 1pm during the day). The good-sized screen was rooted to a large black lorry and placed, I believe, in the area from where last year’s fireworks were set off. It was a great location which provided an expansive area on the hill near the play area, and below, for people to take up a position.

What was very welcome was the lack of trailers. There were just a few rolling adverts, including one for the University of Suffolk. Then, without any fanfare, the picture began. Groups ranged from couples to families. One had a golden Labrador. There were deckchairs and picnic blankets, strawberries, jam, and ice cream. Being allowed to bring your own food and alcohol might have been the best masterstroke. Some even popped what appeared to be champagne bottles. There were also burger vans and drinks on sale.

The audio levels were set perfectly. It was loud enough to really hear every word very clearly, and not too loud so that the pitch was distorted. There was very key I thought, and they got it spot on. The audio and visuals were also perfectly in sync.

One thing which struck me was the ability to talk to each other. Due to the ample space between groups, and just being outdoors, you could converse very easily without disturbing anyone, something which is obviously, and rightly, outlawed at cinemas.

Overall, it was a nostalgic and uplifting night out. Ticket prices are very reasonable – almost half the average cinema ticket – the organisation was great, and I implore everyone to indulge in this type of heartwarming experience.